I finished another chapter last night! Chapter thirty-two, wow. I write using Scrivener, so I don’t generally see the chapter numbers as I write them, and I don’t bother to count the index cards in the corkboard view. However, every time I finish a new chapter, I do a fresh compile of the manuscript into a Word document and an ePub for my Kobo and stick them in my Dropbox. Then I set Word to take care of widows and orphans so that there aren’t any when I print the pages out.
Thirty-two chapters. Apart from what I like to think of as “interludes”, which are short chapters told from the synchronizer’s perspective, each of them is at least 2,000 words long. Not that chapters have to be of a certain length in order to be good; I’ve read many books where a chapter has only been a few words to serve as a dramatic pause in the narrative or switch POV briefly.
I feel a bit like I did when I’d hit 40k during NaNoWriMo; I could see the light at the end of the tunnel and that excited me beyond description. I have only three planned chapters left, 7,500 words or less. Of course, this would be the moment where I veer off course completely and discover that I need to get a lot more done to reach a satisfactory ending. If that’s the case, so be it. There’s only so much planning I can do for a novel before it sweeps me off on its own strange currents.
I really like the gardener and architect images that George R. R. Martin spoke of:
I think there are two types of writers, the architects and the gardeners. The architects plan everything ahead of time, like an architect building a house. They know how many rooms are going to be in the house, what kind of roof they’re going to have, where the wires are going to run, what kind of plumbing there’s going to be. They have the whole thing designed and blueprinted out before they even nail the first board up. The gardeners dig a hole, drop in a seed and water it. They kind of know what seed it is, they know if planted a fantasy seed or mystery seed or whatever. But as the plant comes up and they water it, they don’t know how many branches it’s going to have, they find out as it grows. And I’m much more a gardener than an architect.
To me, I’m charting a course down a river. I know that it leads to the sea, but I don’t know which forks to take, which waters are troubled by rapids and cataracts, which branches end unexpectedly and force me to carry my craft over land for a time. I don’t know when I’ll have to backtrack and take a different path. There is a lot of planning that goes into it, but there is a pretty large element of discovery as well.